What is pension credit, how do you claim to get a free TV licence and is there a calculator?
MILLIONS of pensioners will end up forking out for a TV licence they could get for free – because they haven't applied for pension credit.
The government has estimated that 40 per cent of pensioners who are eligible for the benefit don't claim it, meaning up to 1.3 million people could be missing out.
New rules from the BBC mean that from July 2020, over-75s will no longer automatically get free licences.
The change means that 3.7million pensioners could need to stump up £154.50 for a colour TV licence and £52 for a black and white one.
Since the change will not impact households where one person qualifies from pension credit from the government – it's important that anyone who is eligible for the benefit makes sure they are getting it.
What is pension credit?
Pension credit is an income-related benefit that helps those on lower incomes by giving them extra income throughout retirement.
There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:
- Guarantee credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. This is £167.25 if you're single and £255.25 for married couples.
- Savings credit provides extra money if you've saved money towards retirement. You can get an extra £13.75 a week for a single person or £15.35 a week for a married couple.
You may also get additional pension credit if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have to pay certain housing costs like mortgage interest payments.
For instance, you can get either £53.34 or £63.84 per week for each child or young person you’re responsible for.
If they’re disabled, you may get more.
Who is eligible for pension credit?
It is available for people who are over the state pension age, who live in England, Scotland or Wales.
This is currently rising to 66 for both pen and women.
Depending on when you were born, you might have a different state pension age.
You can check when yours is, you can use this government tool.
It used to be the case that couples where one person was over state pension age could claim, but new rules now mean that both people in a partnership must be over retirement age to apply.
This means if you're single and move in with a partner who is younger than state pension age, you will stop being eligible.
To qualify, you'll need to have a weekly income of less than £167.25 (for single people) or £255.25 (for couples).
Your income is worked out taking into account various elements including:
- Your State Pension
- Any other pensions you have saved, for instance workplace or private pension savings
- Most social security benefits, for example Carer’s Allowance
- Any savings or investments worth over £10,000 – (£1 of income is counted for every £500 or part £500)
- Earnings from a job
The calculation does not include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Christmas bonus
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Reduction
If your income is too high to get guarantee pension credit, you may still get some savings pension credit.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence
IN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.
In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.
On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
How much will I get?
How much you will be paid depends on your specific circumstances.
Fortunately, there is a helpful government calculator, which will tell you exactly what you can expect to receive.
You'll need to have a lot of financial information to hand including details of your earnings, benefits, pensions, savings and investments.
You'll also need the same information for your partner if you have one.
You won't be able to use the calculator if either you or your partner:
- is deferring the state pension
- owns more than one property
- is self-employed
You can find the calculator on the government's website here.
As well as the top up of income, you'll also be entitled to other benefits – so it's well worth applying.
For instance, if you get the guarantee credit you will automatically qualify for maximum Housing Benefit, but you have to make a separate claim.
You'll also continue getting a free TV license and qualify for a cold weather payment too.
How can I apply?
The fastest way to apply for pension credit is by phone.
You can get a friend or family member to ring for you, but you'll need to be with them when they do.
Just call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234. It's open Monday to Friday from 8am to 7:30pm
You'll need some information to hand before you make the call, including:
- Your national insurance number
- Information about your income, savings and investments
- The details for the account you want the money to be paid into
The earliest possible date to apply is four months before you reach your state pension age.
If you claim after then, you can backdate your claim for up to three months.
How will I be paid?
Your benefits are usually paid into an account, for instance a bank account.
It's usually paid every four weeks.
You’ll be asked for bank, building society or credit union account details when you claim.
But if you have problems opening or managing an account, you might be able to claim a different way.
How do I use my pension credit to keep getting a free TV licence?
The BBC has said it will be writing everyone who currently has a free over-75 license before 31 May 2020 to let them know how they may be affected and what they will need to do.
It has confirmed that anyone receiving pension credit will still get their license free, but said that it will let be letting people know how to apply "in good time".
It does, however, say that you will need to keep your latest pension credit letter safe.
The broadcaster said it may ask for a copy later when it's time to apply, but that you don't need to send anything now.
If you don't receive pension credit, but live with a partner who does, the BBC has said you might need to transfer your TV licence to the name of the person who gets the benefit.
You should make sure they keep their pension credit letter safe as you may need to send this in.
Fury as millions of over-75s to lose free TV licence as perk is axed by BBC.
How to watch TV legally WITHOUT paying for a licence.
Charity Age UK warned that the extra bill could trigger "great worry and distress" to thousands of vulnerable pensioners.
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